Radical Acceptance is a current buzzword in mental health- Lady Gaga is a big fan of this principle. Radical Acceptance is a concept that emerged from Dialectical Behavior Therapy and it is a very useful skill to apply when navigating challenging relationships with your boss, coworkers, family, friends or spouse. Radical Acceptance is a technique that you can use when you feel frustrated, betrayed, hurt, or let down by someone and you get stuck in that emotional state.
When you radically accept something, you are accepting the facts and the reality of the situation, including all the positives and the negatives. You also let go of control or judging what happened when you decide to practice Radical Acceptance. When you practice Radical Acceptance, you do not try to fix or change the situation and you do not worry about it. You accept that “It is what it is” and you set realistic expectations while focusing on your responsibilities and values.
Emotionally, when you radically accept something, you name and honor your feelings around the person or event. You are honest with yourself and you do not deny your feelings or the truth. You also don’t spin your wheels and continue to think about the hows and whys of your feelings, you just name them. You do not make excuses, justify, rationalize or try to change your feelings, you just recognize and accept them.
Radical Acceptance is not justifying or overlooking bad behavior and it does not mean that you let people walk all over you or take advantage of you. It means that you are honest and realistic about what and who is in your environment and your role in these relationships. When you practice Radical Acceptance, difficult people, situations, and memories have less power over you. You also feel less disappointed.
Why get upset when your grumpy neighbor scowls at you in the morning instead of waving if he has been doing that every day for the past ten years? Everyone, including you, knows that he scowls at people. Why get mad that your sister skipped your son’s 5th birthday party when she tends to “no show” for most family occasions? You cannot make her attend anything. Why worry about everyone getting along at Thanksgiving since there is no way you can control that? Why stress about attending team meetings when you know your coworkers always end up arguing? Make a list of your questions and what you need to say, and then leave when the fighting starts.
Here is an example of how to apply Radical Acceptance:
· Ask yourself what can I control in this situation?
· Name the facts, what are the truths here?
· Identify your role and your responsibility in this situation.
· Ask yourself what do you know about this person or situation? What has the past taught you to expect?
· Don’t try to change or influence the person or situation.
· Don’t judge your behavior or anyone else’s.
“My supervisor is such a mean jerk. He never answers my Emails and he has such a bad temper. Every Monday morning I walk the long way to my office just to avoid him before he has his coffee. I am sure he must think I am such an idiot because I am new and do not know how to work all these computer programs and I ask so many questions. I’m going to try to figure out how to make him like me and how to make him happier at work. I heard other people at work talk about his temper and how difficult he is to work for. I am so afraid he is going to yell at me. All I do is think about how awful he is and how I can avoid getting in trouble.”
“My supervisor seems to have a short fuse and yelling at employees is not okay but I am not going to take it personally. I can’t control if he decides to yell at me. I do not like how he acts but I cannot control his behavior nor is it my job to make him happy. I am new and I am going to focus on learning my job better, all new people have a lot to learn. If my supervisor will not answer my Emails, I will ask someone else my questions. I am going to take the most direct route to my office in the morning because that makes the most sense to me and I am going to greet and smile at whoever I see because I value being friendly. My supervisor’s tone does make me feel uncomfortable, but that is normal, it seems like he makes other people feel uncomfortable too. I am on to my next task and do not have to think about this anymore!”